The Circle is a Channel 4 reality show which revolves around a group of contestants who all live in isolation in the same apartment complex and never meet in person. Their only interactions are through the online messaging system – The Circle – which allows contestants to either play themselves or construct a new identity, as Emelle, a lesbian playing the role of a straight woman, has chosen to do.
The aim of the game is to gain popularity amongst fellow contestants with participants rating each other each week, with the lowest rating contestant being sent home. The overall winner will take away £100,000 in cash. Therefore, on a show where other people’s perceptions and first impressions mean everything, 31 year-old lesbian Emelle from Manchester has chosen to play a 24 year-old straight woman.
Emelle explains that this decision is purely tactical with her The Circle profile reading; “Emelle thinks straight privilege is prevalent in society and believes getting ahead will be easier as a young straight woman.” She further discussed this decision on the show saying; “Being gay definitely comes with its hurdles, you’ve got girls being intimidated by you and you’ve got guys trying to turn you, it’s just exhausting.”
Emelle continued to say that she believes playing the role of a straight woman will make winning “so much easier” and that she hopes to sway the opinions of men in the show in her favour saying; “they’re going to keep girls in that they think they might potentially bang. I’ve got to use that to my advantage and make them think they’ve got a chance.”
However, Emelle’s approach has landed her in some hot water online with many people taking to social media to criticise her decision stating that the message it sends is both problematic and harmful, particularly to younger members of the LGBT+ community.
It’s really sad the gay contestants on #TheCircle think pretending to be straight will take them further in the competition. What kind of message does that send out to the young impressionable viewers.
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) September 24, 2019
— Chris Hampton (@WatchWando) September 25, 2019
YouTubers Whitney and Megan Bacon-Evans, a married lesbian couple, tweeted their disappointment at Emelle “sending the wrong message”, stating that they had both applied for The Circle as “a visible lesbian couple” and were in the running to appear on the show.
PSA: we applied to go on #TheCircle as a visible lesbian couple (& was in the running), showing that you don’t have to change who you are to be loved & accepted… but instead they pick a lesbian who’s willing to pretend to be straight to win?! Totally sending the wrong message. pic.twitter.com/HsZht2vHyu
— What Wegan Did Next (@WhatWeganDid) September 24, 2019
However, Emelle is not the first member of the LGBT+ community to hide her identity on the show, with Freddie, an openly gay call centre worker from Essex, playing a straight version of himself on last year’s season of the show.
Regardless of all the controversy, it will be interesting to see how Emelle’s plan pans out and whether or not it will actually benefit her as she believes it will.
© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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